Mar 24th, 2019
Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 18 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes or so I’m going to tell you a little story.
In 1997, I went on a summer missions trip to Thailand. We encountered a lot of religious people, mainly Buddhists. But, when we ventured outside of the cities, into the wildernesses and the jungles we found an overwhelming amount of people who didn’t even have a concept of what a God was. Coca-Cola they knew, but not God. I remember on every missions trip being amazed that Coca-Cola had done a better job evangelizing the world for their soda than Christianity has done for Christ. But I digress...
On one such trip out of the city, we had to hike ten miles through the jungle from the road to get to a village. Upon arriving we found a small, very friendly community living in huts with dirt floors whose children loved to play soccer. And the chickens, who seemed to outnumber the villagers, ran free; they were just everywhere. In the village center, which was off to one side, but was the center for community gatherings there was a building that was one of the biggest and among the first that they built when the village was created. They used this building for meetings of the elders, community events, and as a school for the children.
The people in this village had no concept of a god, so to speak, which was expected, but they did have tales of a great spirit whom they revered in a form of worship that was more than superstition, but less than an established faith. This great spirit had spoken to their founding elder when they built the village. It was under this great spirits instruction that they had built the community building who told them that one day strangers would come and reveal to them the true use of the building. It was a pretty normal building with just a couple of key details that would jump out at you. Next to the only entrance of the building was a sign listing the villages ten laws, laws that the great spirit had given to them. I paraphrase from memory, but they read something like this:
Worship only the great spirit.
Do not create things to worship.
Do not speak for the great spirit if the great spirit hasn’t spoken.
Remember a regular day of rest from work.
Honor your life-givers.
Do not take another’s life.
Do not have sex outside of your pledge of commitment.
Do not take what belongs to another.
Do not lie to bring guilt to another.
Do not wish you had something someone else has as your own.
You probably pieced that together before I got through the whole list. The laws this village lived by, that were given to them by their great spirit, we’re a rudimentary version of the Ten Commandments that God carved into stone for Moses. That is a common thing around the world that these ten core values in communities of faith are their founding principles or laws, or some version of these can be found in their mythos. But, the other detail that stood out about this community building was a symbol the great spirit gave them to place over the door: a cross. You wanna talk about a people who were primed and ready for the Gospel. We were in the right place.
I remember being in awe by all these details as they were revealed to us through an interpreter as one of the elders was talking to our group. The whole thing was this very surreal experience, flying to another country, constantly being assaulted by a fear of death, hiking through the jungle, meeting this village of people, having a coke, and then listening to this tale as told by one of their elders. There was nothing that could damper the adventure until the leader of our team very boldly proclaimed back to that village elder that we were the strangers that were going to reveal to them the true meaning of the building their great spirit had instructed them to build. Those were quite sobering words for my fifteen-year-old heart and everything became very, very, real.
We had dinner as guests in the homes of the villagers and slept in what I can only describe as a barn, or maybe that was just because of the chickens. The next day we played games with the children and when the time came in the afternoon we started our presentation, a drama. Makeup, costumes, music, and a storyline dubbed in a language the people could understand. Our drama told a story that we would then relate back to the story of God creating the universe, mankind falling, and Jesus coming to die to bring us back to God. As our leader was explaining this to the villagers and that our God and their great spirit were one and the same through our translator a young girl around the age of ten jumped up and ran forward.
She began yelling at her fellow villagers until our translator handed her his microphone. As she spoke he translated for us. She said that she knew this son of the great spirit that we spoke of. He had been visiting her in her dreams every night for several weeks and she had put her faith in Him. She went on to preach the gospel to her own people as told to her in her dreams.
Romans 10:14-20 reads, “ How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher?  And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.  But not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message?  So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.  But I ask, "Did they not hear?" Yes, they did: Their voice has gone out to the whole earth, and their words to the ends of the world.  But I ask, "Did Israel not understand?" First, Moses said, I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that lacks understanding.  And Isaiah says boldly, I was found by those who were not looking for me; I revealed myself to those who were not asking for me.”
We know Jesus as the only way to God, but Jesus can and does reveal Himself to those seeking the truth in the many different ways they may seek it.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”